Department of Criminal Justice

200 Ruby Jones Hall
Mary Brewster, Chairperson

PROFESSORS: Brewster, Nestlerode


ASSISTANT PROFESSORS: Abdel-Salam, Antonio, Przemieniecki, Reyes, Tucker

West Chester University's Department of Criminal Justice offers a broad-based, interdisciplinary program that combines theory with application. Courses that teach applied knowledge complement a solid core curriculum of theory, philosophy, and analysis. The program is designed to fulfill the needs of four categories of students:

  1. Those who desire a carefully planned four-year program of study to prepare for careers in criminal justice;

  2. Students from two-year colleges who desire to continue their educations and obtain bachelor's degrees;

  3. Criminal justice professionals who seek to increase their professional competencies by strengthening their educational backgrounds;

  4. Those who wish to pursue master's degrees or law degrees.

The program provides 1) a core curriculum of required courses to ensure a solid working knowledge of the major systems within the discipline; 2) a variety of elective courses that permits students to tailor their academic careers to their professional goals; 3) a venue for the development of critical analysis and communication skills; and 4) practical experience in a criminal justice setting. These primary programmatic qualities advantageously position the successful undergraduate student for entry-level positions in criminal justice agencies or postgraduate studies.

A primary feature of the program is the summer practicum served at a criminal justice agency. It is designed to give the student the opportunity to apply acquired theoretical knowledge and receive direct professional experience in the field.

Undergraduate Goals and Objectives

The Department of Criminal Justice strives to

  1. expose students to a solid education in the major components of the criminal justice system;
  2. foster the development of ethical and moral standards;
  3. provide students with the opportunity to apply their education to practical real-world experience;
  4. prepare students to critically evaluate and communicate concepts of criminal justice;
  5. foster and maintain mutually supportive relationships with professional criminal justice agencies; and
  6. maintain and strengthen a program that is interdisciplinary and holistic in nature by providing a variety of courses that will ensure discipline diversity.

As a result, graduates will gain knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  1. Content. Students will have acquired the knowledge to be able to communicate concepts of criminal justice, intelligently and authoritatively.
  2. Critical thinking. Students will be able to critically evaluate issues and concepts related to criminal justice.
  3. Ethical/moral development. Students will increase their awareness of ethical issues in the field and will develop skills to enhance sound ethical and moral judgments.
  4. Practical experience. Students will have gained confidence, maturity, and skills from practical experience in a criminal justice setting.

Related Student Activities

The Criminal Justice Club (Sigma Tau Omicron) is the local chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association (Lambda Alpha Epsilon). The activities of this organization are open to all students. The Law Society is an organization also open to all students, but may be of particular interest to those students aspiring to law school.

TEAMfit is a program designed for future criminal justice practitioners that encourages students to adopt positive fitness and wellness goals before entering the difficult and sometimes stressful field of criminal justice. The TEAMfit program includes healthy and friendly activities, such as a miles competition, recruit fitness course, and weight-loss competition. The program includes fitness, nutrition and wellness education, and stress management training.

The department also houses the Nu Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. Nu Beta members participate in a number of educational and social activities throughout the semester, including field trips, research presentations at regional and national conferences, and charitable events.


120 semester hours

  1. General ed. requirements, see pages 38-44 (48 semester hours)
  2. Required courses* (33 semester hours)
    CRJ 110, 210, 220, 287, 300, 387, 400, and 490
    (a 12-credit practicum offered only in the summer)
  3. Criminal justice electives* (24 semester hours)
  4. Related areas* (18 semester hours)
    (minor or electives taken under advisement)

* A minimum grade of C is required in all criminal justice and related-area courses. CRJ 300, 387, 400, and 450 must be taken at West Chester University and are not typically transferable from any other college or university.

Enrollment in CRJ 110 and CRJ 210 is open to all students. However, enrollment in most other criminal justice courses is limited to criminal justice majors, criminal justice minors, and to those students who have received special permission from the department chairperson. Also, a grade of C or better is required in CRJ 110 before any other CRJ course may be taken, with the only exception being CRJ 210. Admission to the program is competitive, and enrollment in such restricted courses is no assurance of admission into the major (nor is acceptance into the minor program assurance of future acceptance into the major). Students wishing to change their majors to criminal justice must apply to the department. Evaluation of applications is based on academic performance, writing ability, and other relevant data.

NOTE: This program deviates from the "Anticipated Time for Degree Completion," which is outlined on page 58, since the program requires the completion of requirements that can only be met in the summer.

Students should generally have a GPA of at least 2.5 to apply for admission to the program.

A 2.5 average or better must be earned in the aggregate of lower- and upper-division courses before graduation will be recommended.

Minor in Criminal Justice (21 semester hours)

Required courses* (21 semester hours)
CRJ 110, 210, 220, 287, 300, 387, and 400

This minor may be taken as one of the minors in the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in liberal studies general degree program. Students should generally have a GPA of at least 2.5 to apply for admission to the program. Students must earn an overall GPA of 2.5 in their CRJ courses in order to complete the minor.

* A minimum grade of C is required in all criminal justice and related-area courses. CRJ 300, 387, 400, and 490 must be taken at West Chester University and are not typically transferable from any other college or university.


Symbol: CRJ

110 Introduction to the Criminal Justice System (3) This course is designed to describe the criminal justice system from arrest through trial, appeal, sentencing, correction, and parole. The object of this course is to provide the student with a procedural framework of the criminal justice process.

210 Theories of Crime and Delinquency (3) This course is a survey of the historical and contemporary attempts to explain the phenomena of crime and criminal behavior from the perspectives of sociology, psychology, economics, biology, and law. Emphasis will be placed on contemporary theory and the analysis of evidence supportive of various theoretical positions.

215 GIS for Criminal Justice Careers (3) A course in crime mapping and the analysis of maps of crime patterns, police services, locations of criminal incidents, offenders' geographical behaviors, and spatial trends in crime. This course is crosslisted with GEO 215.

220 Corrections (3) The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a survey and analysis of the correctional system and its processes from both a historical and geographical perspective. Emphasis will be placed on relating this survey and analysis to contemporary practice and future trends in the area of corrections.

240 Criminal Investigation (3) Criminal investigation functions of police involving crimes of violence, crimes against property, and organized crime. Police operational techniques and applicable court decisions in the areas of interview, search, seizure, and arrest.

268 Private Security (3) This course will provide an in-depth examination of the various facets and interests of the private sector of security. A review of the history, organization, management, and safety issues pertaining to the private security profession will be addressed. Emphasis is placed on policy and decision making, personnel, and budgeting, as well as an examination of security programming that responds to the private sector.

287 Policing in America (3) This course will offer an examination of the history and evolution of policing in the United States. It will include contemporary issues in policing including administration and management, policing in a democracy, community policing, officer training, use of force and coercion, discretion, and ethical problems and concerns.

300 Criminal Law (3) This course will cover the principles of criminal responsibility, the purposes and limitations of criminal law, and the elements of various criminal offenses. Substantive criminal law will cover the conduct, acts, and omissions that have been designated as crimes. These acts (or omissions) plus the mental state and other essential elements that make up criminal action will be examined. PREREQ: Students must have earned a grade of C or better in CRJ 110, CRJ 210, and WRT 200 or above.

304 Comparative Justice Systems (3) This course will address the historical and philosophical influences upon the American criminal justice system and will explore other systems of criminal justice found in divergent and dissimilar cultures. The focus of interest will be on the problems and issues of defining concepts of "law" and "justice," and the emergence of America's moral and ethical values as reflected in our contemporary criminal justice system.

310 Juvenile Justice Administration (3) A survey of both the formal (police/courts/corrections) and the informal (diversion) means of dealing with the problem of juvenile crime. Emphasis is not on the behavior but on society's response to it. Emphasis also will be placed on the legal rights of juveniles.

312 White-Collar Crime (3) This course provides an analysis of the usually nonviolent criminal conduct described as official corruption, systematic crime, or violations of trust that are characterized by calculation, deceit, and personal enrichment. Course material will include an examination of Internet and other kinds of crime involving information technology.

314 Organized Crime (3) This course provides an examination of organized crime as an American phenomenon and a comparison to its counterparts in Europe and Asia. The historical development of organized crime throughout the world will be studied. Contemporary issues in organized crime will be addressed, including its evolution into various forms of terrorism.

316 Terrorism (3) This course defines the major differences between criminal violence and ideological and political motives for terror events. An important element for successful terroristic acts is a sufficient audience where the political, social, or religious message can be absorbed. The class also examines the difference between domestic and international terrorism and explores the various stages of extremism and radicalization as a precursor to terrorist acts.

318 Environmental Crime (3) This course is an examination of crimes against the environment and crimes that impact the environment. The history of environmental crime, its investigation, and its prosecution will be studied, as well as most current developments in this area of study. The course will also address the global impact of and response to environmental crime.

320 Sex Crimes and the Law (3) This course explores the nature and extent of sexual crime in America with a focus on the evolution of privacy, sexual rights, and the criminal justice response to sexual offenders. Theories of sexual deviance, treatment, and recidivism will be examined. Changes in law to prevent victimization and protect victims’ rights will also be discussed.

325 Animal Cruelty (3) This course is designed to provide intensive examination of the relationship between animal cruelty and the criminal justice system. It will cover the commission of animal cruelty within circumstances such as child abuse, interpersonal violence, and juvenile delinquency. The goal of the course is to offer students an understanding of the impact that animal cruelty has on society and the criminal justice system.

350 Forensics I - Scientific Crime Detection (3) This course builds on the basics of criminal investigation to elevate students' knowledge and skills in the area of forensic examination. The course will cover current scientific methods of investigation and evidence analysis in contemporary law enforcement.

360 Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice (3) This course will explore the relationship between race and criminal justice, including the historical role that race has played in the criminal justice system. The impact of race and ethnicity on discretion, sentencing, and disposition will be examined at both the adult and juvenile levels. Diverse communities course.

365 Victimology (3) This course introduces the student to the field of victimology. Basic concepts, development, and relevant theoretical and empirical literature will be studied, as well as the policies and practices that have been developed to benefit victims of crime.

370 Gender, Crime, and Justice (3) This course will examine the impact gender has on various aspects of the criminal justice system. The course will offer an exploration of the victimization of women and the culture that supports it. It will also address the unique issues of women as criminals, women as prisoners, and women as workers in the criminal justice system.

380 Computer Crime (3) This course will be an introduction to the various aspects of crime committed with the aid of computers. While the content will not be technical in focus, certain topics will involve discussion of computer systems and protocols, specifically in the area of computer forensics. Students will be introduced to both the collection and analysis of digital evidence. Since computer crime and its investigations are evolving rapidly, the curriculum will change as the semester progresses, and the syllabus may be altered to include current issues or legal cases. Students will complete the course with the basic tools by which to practice computer crime investigation and a knowledge base of current law to keep up with developments in this discipline.

387 Criminal Justice Research (3) This course is designed to provide an overview of research methods used in criminal justice research, including data collection methods, sampling techniques, and basic statistical analyses. The course will provide hands-on application of research methods as well as critical analyses of research studies conducted by others in the field of criminal justice. PREREQ: Students must have earned a grade of C or better in each of the following courses: CRJ 110 and 210; and WRT 200 or above.

400 Criminal Procedure (3) This course is an examination of the theory and application of the broadly defined subject of criminal procedure. It is designed to develop in the student a sophisticated understanding of the underlying reasons for, and the applications of, these rules in investigations of criminal activity and in court proceedings. This will be accomplished through the study of the appropriate sections of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and selected cases and statues. PREREQ: Students must have earned a grade of C or better in CRJ 300 and 387.

410 Independent Studies in Criminal Justice (1-3) Research projects, reports, and readings in criminal justice. PREREQ: Permission of department chairperson.
This course may be taken again for credit.

435 Interviewing and Assessing the Offender (3) This course offers the undergraduate student an understanding of the psychology of interviewing and assessing suspects, witnesses, and victims. The course provides students with a solid knowledge base related to interviewing and assessment skills employed at every level of the criminal justice system. Students learn skills through lecture, reading, assignments, role play, and in-class exercises.

440 Violent Crime (3) This course seeks to survey the incidence of violent crime, to analyze the violent criminal, and to study the variety of means that have been developed to control criminal violence.

450 Forensics II - Criminalistics (3) This builds on the basics of Forensics I, applying laboratory science to criminal investigation. The course will focus on more advanced aspects of crime scene processing: evidence collection, preservation, and analysis; and the essentials of courtroom presentation.

455 Topical Seminar in Criminal Justice (3) Intensive examination of a selected area of study in the field of criminal justice. Topics will be announced at the time of offering. Course may be taken more than once when different topics are presented. PREREQ: Junior or senior CRJ major or with permission of instructor.
This course may be taken again for credit.

460 Evidence and Trial Advocacy (3) This course moves a step beyond basic criminal law and criminal procedure studies and takes the student into the courtroom. The student will learn basic rules of evidence presentation and court procedure and discover how the trial process works by actively participating in it. The student will learn how to distill the issues, and to present concise, well-reasoned arguments supporting a given position. It is in this manner that the student will learn critical analysis and practical presentation.

461 Notable Criminal Cases (3) Selected factual accounts of criminality and criminal behavior over the past 75 years are analyzed. Selection is based on notoriety and continued dispute. Course is designed to illuminate, through reading and class analysis, a wide spectrum of criminal conduct and the related investigative and judicial response.

470 Interpersonal Relations (3) This course is designed to aid a student's self analysis in terms of behavior patterns or changes affecting his or her life. This self knowledge often leads to understanding relationships with others, which can assist students in relating to other persons in their personal, social, and professional lives.

472 Justice Studies (3) This course is designed to address the successes, weaknesses, and failures of the current system of justice by examining and analyzing sometimes controversial issues through critical inquiry and legal and social science investigation.

482 Contemporary Legal Issues (3) This course encompasses a brief review of the general principles of law and procedure, followed by an in-depth study of the more controversial legal dilemmas facing today's criminal justice system. The course is designed to shed light on each side of the issue, to enable the student to see beyond the superficial aspects of the conflict, and to understand its more profound nature. Course may be taken more than once when different topics are presented.

487 Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice (3) This course is designed to identify and examine ethical issues among practitioners and students in the criminal justice field. Such issues may include the discretionary power of arrest, the use of deadly force, the decision to prosecute, participation in plea bargaining, representation of the guilty, and the imposition of punishment. Such a course will promote inquiry that combines ethical analysis with a practical awareness of the realities of the criminal justice system.

490 Practicum (3-12) Full-time 12-week structured work experience at a department-approved criminal justice agency under the joint supervision of the faculty instructor and the agency. The course includes periodic reports, a final paper, and attendance at classes held on campus. Offered primarily in the summer. PREREQ: 72 earned credits, GPA at WCU of at least 2.0, C or better in CRJ 300 and CRJ 387. Note: Any student terminated for cause by the professional agency may not retake the course unless special approval to do so is obtained from the department.